February 2017 
Rhapsody wondering when he can eat the new flowers. 
Joey, one of the more unusual attendees at the 2016 Go for 2&5 State Coaching School
Happy New Year to all Coaches,
I hope you had a relaxing break over the Festive Season. When the Department of Sport and Recreation or Healthways ask me if Pony Club is a Winter or Summer sport I always reply "yes" as we generally only get a short period of down time which makes the few weeks in December and January all the more important. I'm pleased to say Santa delivered a new set of dressage letters for my arena and I am hoping to find some builder cones to replace the old plastic lampshades (my coach did wonder why the writing on the top read maximum 40 watt!). And I have found something that is happy to grow in my pots outside the tack-room/feed store door; this makes a colourful start and finish to my day. 
As we start the New Year our thoughts turn to resolutions such as eat less and exercise more. For our Pony Club coaches I have a few suggestions:
  • if you are not accredited then get accredited - see the inspiring story from Yvonne Reilly of Capel Pony Club in the December Coaching News
  • once accredited stay current. Once you have been accredited you can't be de-accredited but you do need to renew your accreditation by listing your Updating Points (sometimes referred to as Continuing Professional Development) - for more information click on Maintaining Your NCAS Accreditation. The Coaching Activity sheet is not specific to Pony Club and I found it useful to also include a list of the activities under the 2 headings of Practical Coaching and PC Development Courses (like the State Coaching School). At the moment there is not a consistent approach within PCA as to what is a reasonable lapsed period i.e. how long after not being current can you send in your Coaching Activity Sheet and be deemed current. This is something the National Coaching Committee is looking at so I would encourage any coach who has lapsed within the last 4 years to complete your Coaching Activity Sheet post haste!
  • ensure someone from your club becomes an accredited gear checker this year as from 2018 each club will need one. And for a really useful intro on gear checking and how to find your way around the revised manual take a look at Dianne Ould's PowerPoint presentation and adapt it for your own club.
The year has had an expensive start with a visit from the farrier, worming, rugs to the cleaners and finally their annual dental inspection. But better to do the right maintenance and preventative health measures than end up coping with an emergency. Just as we have had a break over this period then often we have given our horses a rest as well so take a few moments to read another highly informative article from Natalie Williamson-Holley on Bringing Horses Back Into Work.
Included with this newsletter are all the documents for the Go for 2&5 State Coaching School; Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th February.  It would be lovely if we have a cool weekend but I suspect that is wishful thinking so I have outlined a few tips for staying cool. For those who are happy to camp don't forget that the State Coaching Panel are picking up the costs. 
If you are not within commuting distance and camping is not your thing then you may like to consider:
Wattle Grove Motel, 610 Welshpool Rd tel 9359 1119
Discovery Parks Camping and Chalet Park, 186 Hale Rd tel 1800 626 677.
I've stayed at both places and would do so again.
The Karina Equestrian Park is not as rural as the SEC so if you are bringing a vehicle to the School make sure any valuables are out of sight and keep your phone (switched to silent during the presentations) and purse or wallet with you at all times.
For many clubs February will be the first rally of the year so in this edition there are some useful tips and checks to make the day go smoother. And because we love coaching , a "heartfelt" diagram on the 8 Coaching Principles. 
Your editor
I found this diagram on Pinterest (a great way of wasting time when you think you are not!) and felt in many ways it summed up the Pony Club volunteer way of coaching. So thanks to Jack Caulfield for the diagram. I've adapted the words to fit with our culture and also some of the values and dimensions given in the Pony Club 3 Manual - see the Book Review segment. From a visual point of view I thought that a heart is at the centre of the diagram  really personified how most of us go about coaching - we do it for love of it not for some kind of financial reward. But by doing so enrich the lives of others.
The Coaching Spirit
  • Be a role model - be on time, polite and smartly dressed
  • Be enthusiastic - enjoy seeing riders grow
  • Use your influence rather than position
  • Embrace the concept of situational management i.e. the need to be flexible - we will never have a crystal ball
  • Continue to learn
Relationship and Trust
  • Maintain genuine rapport and humour
  • Show you care
  • Have integrity and build trust
Asking Questions and Curiosity
  • Ask the right type of questions - closed for facts and open for broader information and building rapport 
  • Use open questions (who, what, when, why, how, where) can create opportunities to educate and find solutions to problems
  • Asking the right question require practice
Listening and Intuition
  • Trust your instinct but avoid being judgemental
  • Listen to your inner voice
  • Use the echoing process to check e.g. "by that do you mean ?"
Feedback and Awareness
  • The result of questioning and answering
  • This is a 2-way process
  • Needs to be timely, constructive and when possible, positive
Suggestion and Simplification
  • Use correct and consistent terminology
  • Be open to make things as clear and straightforward as possible
  • Don't assume riders know what you mean
  • Be prepared to explain and use "everyday" language
Goals and Action Plans
  • Understand whether your riders are more coach led or rider led
  • Help develop plans for both sorts
  • Have a plan for each lesson but it doesn't matter on the day if you need to change
Accountability and Accomplishments
  • Acknowledge effort and progress
  • Help break goals down into bite size pieces
  • Keep riders on track with their goals
  • Recognise achievements
Article by Denise Legge
It is likely that for the State Coaching School the weather will be HOT so here are some tips on staying cool!
  • drink lots of water
  • wear clothing made of natural fabric i.e. cotton or linen and ideally light coloured
  • bring along a small insulated bag that the previous night you have put in the freezer - fill it with wet wipes, a spray bottle of water and a tube of aloe vera moisturiser
  • wear a broad brimmed hat and shades when outside
  • bring along a brolly or better still a golfing umbrella - it makes a great sun shade
  • use a neck cooler - these are filled with synthetic pellets that absorb water then you drape it around your neck. I have one and it makes a big difference
  • when you have the chance run cold water over your wrists.
  • think cool thoughts!

Golfing Umbrella
Misting Bottle
Cool Thoughts
Starting a new year in Pony Club can be a bit testing as you often have to cope with new rider/pony combinations plus completely new members. And in spite of instant communication being at most people's fingertips, you often don't  know until the day of the first rally. So how can we make life easier?
  • ensure everyone gets a package of information that includes Codes of Behaviour, Social Media Policy, Member Protection Policy and the Club's Constitution as part of their Welcome Package - if this is done from the start then is saves all the nonsense of "I was never told x, y z stuff"
  • If you have completely new members then assign them to an experienced Pony Club person as a "buddy"
  • outline the aims of Pony Club. There are a number of programs for the more ambitious rider but Pony Club should be aimed at the average rider who wants to learn and have fun at the same time
  • clearly point out who is who on the Committee so members can approach the right person
  • explain ways that parents can get involved and be (more) part of Pony Club
  • have some rules about booking in for rally lessons and some penalty when these rules are broken. 
Having said that it is important that parents know what Pony Club is not:
Pony Club is NOT:
  • a riding school - we have volunteer coaches who follow the PCA Syllabus of Instruction so we don't do lessons on demand at rallies. However there may be opportunities for members to have lessons with club coaches between rallies
  • a place to "dump" their child and pony whilst they shop/work - all members under 18 must have a responsible adult at the Club for the duration of the rally/competition/training event.
  • a re-education facility for a badly trained horse or pony or inappropriate mount - most mounts will improve as their rider improves but a mount that is out of control or a danger to others cannot remain in a group
  • a way for parents to live out their vicarious equine ambitions; particularly difficult if they are more enthusiastic than their daughter or son.
How can we help parents be their best with their child?
The University of Loughborough in the UK, renowned for it's sports education and research carried out an extensive study of parent/child interaction in sports in 2008.  Some of these finding are still relevant today:
This study encourages parents to be supportive but remain non technical (i.e. not do the coaches job) and be aware of their own reactions and emotional responses - like letting someone else reassure the rider prior to a competition if they get a bit anxious or overly controlling. Maintaining a sense of perspective i.e. not being dramatic or overly picky. And ruled against living their life thorough their child (see last bullet point in previous paragraph) but I reckon Facebook has made this a lot harder.
I guess the most important message is for parents to allow their children to enjoy their chosen sport and for them to let coaches to do their job.  If parents are particularly vocal when coaching I have no problem saying "that's great you are so interested in coaching how about doing ......   and if not then please keep quiet and let me coach."
    Rider Too Small For Horse
    Rider Too Big For Pony
    What is the right sized pony?
    Ponies can be quite sturdy and compared to horses can carry more weight for their height. And whilst we have all probably seen lead liners on something quite big but very quiet and older children who are clearly underhorsed , the ideal is when:
    • the rider can see over the wither
    • but his/her feet are more or less in line with the pony's elbow.
    And remember that although some parents might think it would be nice for a young pony and young rider learn together, "green on green makes for black on blue!"
    What to do about a pony that is clearly unsuitable or insufficiently educated?
    As a coach you can only make a suggestion and as Chief Coach you may need to decide as to whether the combination can come along to Pony Club at all.
    Some options might include:
    • a keen Pony Club member to take on a re-education process of the problem pony as a project
    • problem pony is sent to a professional for re-education or to finish it's education
    • extra lessons (ideally on a schoolmaster) for the rider
    • a loan pony (experienced) for the new rider
    • help/advice in moving the pony on and finding something more suitable
    • participate in Pony Club as an unmounted member.
      What is the condition of the pony?
      This is a great exercise to involve the older/associate riders. As the first Horse Care lesson have all riders have their pony/horse measured (not official) , weight taped and condition scored (Carrol and Huntington). And it records a base line and then offers the opportunity for providing advice to improve or change matters.
      Gear Check
      See the highly informative PowerPoint presentation from Dianne Ould on what are the key gear check points and how to navigate your way around the new manual.
      Hopefully your club will have held a busy bee prior to the first rally to bring everything up to scratch but even so best to check for:


      OK or Not OK

      Remedial action (who and by when)

      Enclosed with safe /suitable fence or surrounds


      Surface is safe - no big holes, stones etc


      Gate to be closed when lesson begins


      Suitable for class size and activity


      Take off and landing spots are up to standard

        Be mindful that for some riders and ponies this could be their first time at Pony Club so take into consideration things like:
        • heat or later in the year cold/wet
        • wind - this can spook ponies and make it difficult for riders to hear you clearly
        • outside distractions such as traffic, 'roos, parents, aircraft, other sporting activities etc.
        Assessment of Rider
        It is a good idea to have a quick read through of the PCA Syllabus of Instruction (your Bible!) prior to taking your first class of the year  as this will help you assess riders at the appropriate level:

        Rider Position

        OK not OK

        Improvements for the next rally

        Head on top of shoulders (not tipped forward, to one side or backward)


        Shoulders square


        Back Straight (not slouching or arched)


        Back Upright (not tipping forward nor leaning back)


        Elbows a bit in front of the body


        Straight line bit, hand, elbow


        Hands holding the reins like an ice-cream cone with thumbs on top


        Sitting central in the saddle (check saddle is central and stirrup leathers equal length)


        Knee in correct place for the saddle and type of lesson


        Lower leg on the girth


        Perpendicular line from head, hip and heel


        Heel horizontal or just below the toe


        Toe pointing forwards


        Do the hands follow the pony's movement


        Can the rider rise at trot


        And to the correct diagonal


        Do they understand the leading leg for canter


        Do they understand an open hand or indirect rein


        Do they turn their body prior to turning their pony's


        Are they at home on their pony?

        And it is useful to have a scribe with you when doing the rider assessments - ideally not someone's Mum but it could be someone who is considering doing their Preliminary Coaching Certificate or an Associate rider. And of course with Smart phones then a picture can paint a thousand words which may help you get your message across.
        Good luck. Remember Pony Club would be so much poorer without your involvement and that you can have a very significant effect on a young person's life, not just their riding skills.
        Article by Denise Legge
          Bringing a horse back into work after a spell should be made gradually. All the health checks should be made prior to any work undertaken. So give your horse their 6-monthly full service - check teeth; feet; vaccinations and give an all -over body check. Look for any bumps, lumps or unusual blemishes that weren’t noticed prior to their horsey holiday. Check your equipment and saddlery; make sure your bridle and saddle fit (especially if they have changed shape due to weight increase or muscle loss), check the stitching, and condition of straps. Make sure your stirrup leathers are the required length in case you have grown, and that stirrup irons still fit (especially if you have new boots). Now the helmet standards have slightly changed you need to make sure your helmet meets current standards.
          Look at bringing your horse into work gradually. Start with just walking in hand or under saddle. Then gradually increase into light work. Light work is defined as up to 30-60 minutes daily exercise, consisting of walking, trotting and some cantering.
          Make feeding changes gradually. Look at slowly increasing your horse dietary Intake in relation to his work. A horse in light work needs to consume from 1.5-2.5% of its body weight in a dry feed (10% moisture) each day. Therefore a 500kg horse in light work would need to consume from 7.5 to 12.5kg of feed each day, or an average of 10kg daily to meet exercise demands and maintain its condition and vitality.
          Be careful not to overwork. Horses that haven’t been ridden or seen much exercise over the summer break can be eager about going out on that first ride as you are. Don’t mistake this eagerness for fitness, and don’t assume that the horse is muscled and physically conditioned to do more. Odds are that he will over do it with eagerness and in two or three days his muscles will really be feeling the effect.
          If your horse is like my Snippets at the moment and has gained a few kilos - you need to look at some much-needed weight loss. The key element for horses and ponies in losing weight is, “eating less” and “exercising more”. So, realistic goals for your horses’ weight loss are needed, with regular progress monitoring. Those fat horses and ponies are individuals and cannot all lose all their weight at the same rate.  As those horses did not get fat overnight and they will not lose it all over night either – so patience is needed. Tania Cubitt, PhD, recommends an effective weight loss regimen for a mature, light breed horse should result in the loss of approximately 25-30 kg over a 4 to 6 week period.
          Also if your horse needs to increase body weight this should be done gradually again with a realistic goal. If your horse is very thin, either body condition score 1 or 2 at the end of winter it should be placed on a gradual increased level of nutrition in order to restore body weight.  Tania Cubitt, PhD, suggests it takes 15 to 20 kg of weight gain to change a horses body condition score by 1 unit (based on a 500 kg horse). Therefore a horse with a body condition score of 2 would need to gain approximately 60 kg to increase their condition score to a 5.
          In summary, when bringing horses back into work we want to make all feeding changes gradually.  Avoid overworking your horse beyond its fitness level, and allow adequate time for your horse to regain or lose weight to get them back to an optimal body condition. Make sure all the saddlery and equipment are in good repair, fit and meet current standard requirements. 
          Article by Natalie Williamson-Holley NCAS L1
          BOOK REVIEWS
          Pony Club Manual 3 (the Coaches' Manual) Kevin Lawrence BHSI
          At the Pony Club Australia Biennial Coaching Conference last August, the lucky attendees were given a show bag containing Pony Club Manuals 1,2 and 3.
          Manual 3 is the companion volume to Manuals to 1 and 2. Manuals 1 and 2 provide the knowledge of "what to teach" essentially the Syllabus of Instruction in great detail, while Manual 3 provides the knowledge of "how to teach".
          If you are embarking on gaining your NCAS qualifications this year or just want to be a more mindful coach, then I can certainly recommend this book. It is well illustrated and with relevant photographs. Putting aside that it a New Zealand publication, 99% is pertinent to Pony Club Australia.
          The book covers the qualities of a coach, communications, safety, planning and psychology as well as coaching the specific riding disciplines. Rider fitness, lungeing and horse management are also covered. And it is a handy A5 size.  
          Review Denise Legge
          Horses Hate Surprise Parties by Dr Portland Jones
          Described by some as a "ground breaker", Horses Hate Surprise Parties, is an engaging new book written by Dr Portland Jones and Sophie Warren about the science behind horse/pony training. The forward is written by Dr Andrew Mclean who emphasises that Equitation Science has demonstrated the close link between evidence-based training and improved rider safety and horse welfare.
           It provides a really good history and evolution of the horse, (which many young riders do not know), which leads into how the horses mind works and the how's and why's of training. Basic training exercises explained and demonstrated with pictures, and concludes with training preparation for outings be that Pony Club rallies or horse shows. The book offers an evidence-based insight into how the horse thinks, learns and behaves which will sometimes be different to what is traditionally thought, thus it is a great reference book when one is unsure of an explanation. A valuable resource when pin pointing a problem and attempting to resolve, avoid or understand an unwanted behaviour.
           Horses Hate Surprise Parties is full of useful training exercises and fun facts that Pony Club Coaches can use to inspire groups of young riders. Most of all it will again reinforce that one must take 'tiny steps often' with horse and rider training, not the  'quick fix'. This book should help Coaches put some fun into the small steps and repetition of basic exercises so lessons are always informative and practical.
          Coaches can use this book alongside the Pony Club Manual no 1 & 2 and the Pony Club Syllabus. They will find they have all the tools they need to make truly interesting and informative lessons for all levels, and give some real help and explanation to young riders whose horse is not enjoying the "Surprise Party".
           Working together this book will help coaches, riders and parents understand and enjoy horse training and riding, therefore becoming more patient about progress and most of all keep everyone SAFE.
          Highly recommended for Coaches, parents and riders of all ages and all horse sports.
          Review Judy Rose
          This book will be on sale from the Sustainable Equitation team at the State Coaching School.
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